5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Mood
I won’t lie to you, I ummed and ahhed over the title of this post.
I wanted to write something about the small things I do when I’m having a down day, but I didn’t want to make it sound like fixing your mental health is easy. I didn’t want it to be a ‘do these things, and you’ll be magically cured!’
We all know mental health and your mind doesn’t work quite like that. If it did, I’d be out of a blog, and the NHS would have a lot less on it’s overstretched plate.
But. No matter who you are, or what your state of mind is on a day to day basis, we all have days that are just a bit low. Not to the point of needing medical intervention or talking therapy - because that’s a different kettle of fish altogether - but just a bit ‘meh’.
You don’t feel quite right, you might be restless, you might find it harder to engage with your usual activities, you might even take a complete day of no work/education/social activities.
Those kind of days.
Christ knows I have low mood days, and I’ve had enough of them at this point that I’ve had to stick things in my arsenal to pull out to get me through them.
I tend to find on these days my anxiety can be amplified, and anything I was struggling with before feels ten times worse, even though in reality it’s not really changed. Low mood days, it has to be said, suck. Even when there’s not something more sinister going on.
Disclaimer: this information is not coming from a mental health professional, just someone who has been through some shit days and come out of the otherside. If the low days are ongoing and persistent, go to your doctor, seek professional advice. You know how you feel better than I do.
Right, now we’ve the disclaimer out the day, let's get down to business. (Don’t start singing Mulan, I see you).
FIVE EASY WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
ONE: TALK TO A LOVED ONE
This doesn’t have to be talking to a loved one about the low mood. If you want to tell your friend or family about your mental state, by all means go ahead. But sometimes you just want to forget that you feel a bit shit.
One of my favourite things to do when I’m having a blue day is to message my friend Phills, and ask them to tell me their favourite bad jokes. When I say that Phills has a lot of bad jokes, I’m not exaggerating.
I’ve messaged them approximately 100 times (my maths isn’t great, don’t start on me) asking for jokes, and never had one repeated yet. It’s great, and I highly advise you get yourself a Phills who can tell you jokes.
However, if you don’t have a Phills, just having a conversation - whether that be a call, texting, or private messaging on your favourite social media app - can bring you out of your head for a while, and remind yourself that there are people out there who care.
TWO: EMERGENCY BOX
Some people call them a crisis box, some people a mental health first aid box - whatever your preferred name for it, this one takes a little preparation, preferably on a good head day. Once this is completed, it’s easy enough to go straight to the box when you’re not having a good day, and you’ll have a day full of ready made activities without having to think too hard.
You want this box to be full of things that make you feel better - this will be totally personalised to you and your interests. You might want to put some colouring pens & pencils in, if you’re a letterer like Ruth you might want to treat yourself to some new pens and put them in this box to crack out when you’re having a bad head day, you might put in a DVD and some chocolate.
Whatever it is doesn’t matter, as long as it isn’t something you can harm yourself with, or won’t make you feel better.
Personally, my box would contain a new embroidery kit because this is something I like to do when my hands need a distraction, a face mask, notes with little reminders on them that I’m not a bad person, a list of podcasts I like to listen to, and a new book.
What would your box look like?
THREE: DISTRACT YOUR HANDS
What’s that saying? Something about the devil and idle hands?
Whatever it is, it holds some truth to it. If your hands are idle, then your brain probably is as well. And it’s when we’re left alone with our thoughts that things can get quite nasty quite quickly.
Having something to occupy your hands will (hopefully) occupy your brain too, especially if it’s something you have to put a little thought into. Whether this be colouring a complicated pattern, engaging in a craft like embroidery, crochet, or knitting, jewellery making, or even experimenting with a new makeup look, giving your hands something to do will take your brain out of the funk and hopefully perk you up a little.
Again, this is something totally personalised to what you enjoy doing, but having something on hand can prove quite useful.
FOUR: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO NOTHING
I don’t know about you, but for me, when I’m in a low mood one of the main things that keeps me there is thinking about all the things I’m not doing because of how I feel.
Stop it. It’s not worth it.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t constantly have to be working on your to do list, or doing something related to work or education to better yourself. Especially now, we live in a world that encourages the ‘hustle’, the constantly working on your goals to achieve great things.
I’m here to burst that bubble.
It’s more than okay to take a day or two or three to yourself. If you’re feeling low, you’re never going to do your best work anyway. Better to give yourself space to breathe and regroup, and tackle your lists with renewed vigour than try and force yourself to work when you’re not feeling it and do a half-arsed job.
I also realise that for some people, this is a privilege they literally cannot afford, but I’d wager you can still find an hour or two somewhere to just sit and do nothing.
Half the time, giving myself permission to do nothing but indulge in Netflix, or take a nap, or sit and have a cup of tea with a book, or just literally do nothing perks me right up without actually having to do anything.
Try it. You might surprise yourself.
FIVE: GET OUTSIDE
Sitting around in your comfies all day and feeling crap, only to realise you’ve not actually left the house in four days and you’re ready to climb the walls?
Yeah, we’ve all been there.
Staying in the same environment day after day is not going to do your mind or mood any good, and can be a big contributor to you feeling particularly low. Sticking on a pair of shoes and a coat and getting outside can raise your mood without you having to do much.
Plus, it’s free!
I either like to take a short walk through the woods with my headphones on, listening to my favourite music or podcasts, or I like to walk down to Tescos and treat myself to a little chocolate.
And by that, I mean the biggest bar of Dairy Milk.
Giving yourself some fresh air and time in a different space can brighten your mood in an instant, and it’s one of the first things I turn to when I wake up feeling a little low. Breathe deep, ground yourself, it’s all going to be okay.
What mood boosters do you like to use?